Atlanta & Fulton County Audit Attorney
In the late 1950s Sonny Curtis penned the song “I Fought the Law,” and it has popped up on the charts almost every decade since then. The song is so catchy we all recall that despite the protagonist’s efforts, the law won. Well, we at the Wooten Firm think it is time to do a cover or remix where the law doesn’t win. We regularly fight the IRS and win, and we think more people should know that they can win too. There is a huge misconception among taxpayers that you can’t fight back against the IRS if it decides to audit you or suggests you owe additional taxes. That is simply not true.
One of the ways we help people fight back against the IRS is by defending against overly-aggressive auditors and overly broad requests for information that the IRS has no right to access.
What Is An Audit?
Most people think they know what an audit is, and a majority of people are terrified they will be subject to one. However, there are a lot of misconceptions about audits that make them seem scarier than they actually are. Auditors like this, because they can use this misconception to intimidate people.
At its core, an audit is a request for additional information, not a sinister search for malfeasance. The government does audits in order to ensure it is collecting all taxes due, and to deter people from cheating.
When you imagine being audited, you probably think of someone in a dark suit who flashes a badge coming to your home or place of business and asking to look through your files. Dramatic, Hollywood-style audits of this sort, which are actually known as “field audits,” can and do happen, but it is far more likely that you will be audited by mail.
The most common audits are correspondence audits. When the IRS or state tax collectors send you a letter asking for additional information about something in your taxes, you are technically being audited. The vast majority of audits are done in this manner, with many taxpayers not even realizing they are being audited.
The next step up from a correspondence audit is an office audit, where a taxpayer is asked to appear at an IRS office to answer questions and provide additional information in person.
The fear of getting audited is two-fold. It is unnerving to think of some government bureaucrat digging through your personal information looking for mistakes like a teacher with a brand new red pen. But it is also scary to think about what might happen if a mistake is found. The IRS can assess fines, fees, and penalties, and tack on interest. If you have committed major fraud you may even wind up in jail.
What Can An Attorney Do That My Accountant Can’t?
Taxpayers who “have nothing to hide” or who have already paid their tax preparer for “audit defense” often think they don’t need to hire an attorney to assist them. While nobody must hire an attorney, many taxpayers should.
An experienced attorney can help resolve an audit quickly. The attorneys at our firm know how to gather the information that is being requested, and exactly what information should be handed over to the auditors. Giving the auditors only what they ask for and nothing more is critical. Handing them more information than they asked for often leads to more questions, leading the audit down a deep rabbit hole of information that delays the process and often highlights problems the auditor would not otherwise have noticed.
There are many judgment calls that have to be made when responding to an auditor’s request. Accountants are in the habit of going along with whatever the auditor suggests is the best option. An attorney is going to ask why, and will hold the interests of the client above all else.
Finally, attorneys can protect sensitive information through attorney-client privilege. This means you can turn all of your documents over to your attorney and get advice about what information to share with the auditors without making that information discoverable in future litigation. There is no such thing as CPA-client privilege, so anything that is shared with a CPA or other non-attorney professional can be discovered if the underlying dispute progresses toward a trial.
All this is not to say that working with an accountant is a bad idea, or is something we never do. We work with accountants all the time, especially when our clients need us to do so because that is who has all of their financial information. However, we do so using a Kovel agreement that runs all documents and decision-making through our office. This extends the attorney-client privilege and ensures that there is a designated person in charge of handling the client’s affairs.
The Wooten Firm Advantage
The Wooten Firm is aggressive and affordable. We give individuals and small-medium size businesses the same level of sophisticated representation they would receive from a large law firm, but we are friendly and affordable. Our rates are competitive with the giant, faceless tax settlement companies who make big promises but are not lawyers and are not willing to do the necessary hard work that we do.
We fight for our clients so they can get beyond the tax issues they are facing an get on with their lives. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.